Standard Paint Can Sizes, Dimensions and Coverage [Complete Guide]

When preparing for a painting project, knowing the standard paint can sizes, dimensions, and coverages is essential. That way, you can choose the right quality of paint for your room, furniture piece, or another item you want to cover.

Generally speaking, the most popular standard paint can sizes are one pint, one quart, and one gallon. However, there are far more paint can sizes on the market, ranging from quarter-pints to five-gallon buckets. As a result, you can easily get the right amount of paint for your next project.

If you’re trying to determine which paint can sizes will meet your needs, here’s a look at the options available and the amount of coverage they offer.

Standard Paint Can Sizes

Standard Paint Can Sizes

Paint cans are available in a wide variety of sizes. While one pint, one quart, and one-gallon cans are the most popular, those aren’t the only ones you’ll find.

Paint is also available in five-gallon buckets, which may be ideal for larger projects. If you just want to sample color to see if you like it, you can get a quarter-pint.

There are also intermediate sizes, including half-pints and half-gallons. As a result, by choosing the right mix of paint cans, you can usually get the precise amount of paint needed for a project without paying for too much excess.

What Are the Standard Paint Can Dimensions?

Most paint cans have very specific dimensions based on their size. However, there are several reasons for the standardized dimensions, including availability, affordability, and ensuring they’ll fit in typical mixing machines.

The shape of paint cans is usually a cylinder. As a result, the main dimensions most people need to know are the height and the diameter.

The difference between the two measurements is often non-existent with half-pint cans. The dimensions for that size are approximately 2 7/8” x 2 7/8”. However, the difference increases slowly with larger cans, causing the height to exceed the diameter in greater amounts as the size of the paint can goes up.

For the one pint can, you end up with dimensions near 3 7/16” x 3 15/16”. When you reach a quart-sized can, it’s closer to 4 ¼” x 4 7/8”. One-gallon can dimensions are near 6 ½” x 7 ½”. A five-gallon can usually comes in at 12” x 14 ½”.

Paint Can Size Chart

Sometimes, the easiest way to assess the different paint can sizes is with a chart. It lets you quickly compare the options, giving you a better idea of how their volumes and dimensions differ.

Here is a quick overview of the pain can sizes, including the amount of paint they contain and their diameters and heights.

 Amount of PaintDimensions
Can SizeOuncesLitersDiameterHeight
Half Pint8 fl. oz.0.242 7/8”2 7/8”
Pint16 fl. oz.0.473 7/16”3 15/16”
Quart32 fl. oz.0.954 1/4”4 7/8”
Half Gallon64 fl. oz.1.895 3/8”5 7/8”
Gallon128 fl. oz.3.796 1/2"7 1/2"
5 Gallon640 fl. oz.18.9312”14 1/2"

How Much Does One Can of Paint Cover?

Since different paint can sizes contain varying amounts of paint, they offer different levels of coverage. By understanding how much area each size can handle, you can estimate the amount of paint you’ll need for your project.

Now, it’s important to note that the information below is estimated. Your exact coverage level will depend on a range of factors besides can size. For example, the thickness of the paint and how heavily you apply the paint matters. The surface texture may also play a role, as a higher amount of texture requires more paint to address.

In most cases, you’ll want to get a bit more paint than you believe your project will take, giving you room for error and extra for touchups. Still, the information below can serve as a solid baseline as you plan for your project.

Half Pint

A half-pint paint can cover up to 25 square feet. Generally speaking, that’s not enough to cover a typical wall in a home. So, for example, if you have an 8’ ceiling, you’d only be able to handle a strip about 3’ wide with that paint can size.

However, a half-pint might be all you need to use for one modest-sized furniture piece or the baseboards and crown molding in one room. It could also work for wall alcoves or niches – as those don’t cover the entire wall area – or a similar small project.


With a pint, you get up to 50 square feet of coverage. That’s potentially enough for an accent wall. If you have an 8’ ceiling, you may be able to cover a wall up to 6’ wide with a pint, though you wouldn’t have much room for error.

Similarly, a pint might be sufficient for a ceiling in a smaller room. Additionally, it may work well for a furniture piece or two.


One quart of paint can give you up to 100 square feet of coverage. At this point, you’re starting to get into the right ballpark for most wall painting projects. A pint could give you enough for a larger accent wall or ceiling in a room, depending on its size.

With a quart, tackling several furniture pieces is potentially an option. For example, that amount of paint should be enough to cover many five-piece dining sets.

Half Gallon

With a half-gallon of paint, you can usually cover up to 200 square feet. That may be enough one or two accent walls in a room, a couple of ceilings, or a ceiling and a closet.

When it comes to furniture, handling entire dining or bedroom sets likely wouldn’t be an issue. In some cases, you may even have enough left over for other projects, too.


General Finishes Water Based Milk Paint, 1 Gallon, Lamp BlackOne gallon of paint will typically cover up to 400 square feet. At this point, you’re starting to get into the range where handling entire rooms is possible.

In most cases, that’s enough coverage for the walls of a bathroom, pantry, laundry, or home office, though it may also be able to cover the ceiling depending on the room size. The gallon of paint may even be enough for a smaller bedroom, though it would probably only handle the walls at most.

5 Gallon

Montage Signature Interior/Exterior Eco-Friendly Paint, Mustard Seed, Low Sheen, 5 GallonWith a five-gallon paint can, you can typically cover up to 2,000 square feet. Since the average room requires about two gallons, you may be able to paint two full rooms with paint to spare.

In some cases, this amount of paint could be what you need for an open concept living area. If you have a living, dining, kitchen, and connecting hallways that you want to repaint in the same color, a five-gallon paint bucket could potentially be enough to make that happen. However, you’ll want to do the calculations to confirm, as home sizes do vary.

Spray Paint

4 ½ Oz

In most cases, 4 ½ oz. can of spray paint can cover up to 7 square feet. That may cover a smaller furniture piece or two, like a single dining chair or a pair of very basic stools.

Often, this spray paint can size is a good choice if you want to add accents to several furniture pieces. For example, it may let you cover just the tops of a few side tables or the legs of a smaller dining table and chairs set.

12 Oz

With the 12 oz. size, the spray paint can may provide coverage for up to 20 square feet. That could handle either multiple smaller furniture pieces or one medium one. Painting several dining chairs could be an option, as well as a single, modestly-sized coffee table, depending on its shape.

In some cases, a 12 oz. spray paint can could cover the top of a dining table. However, that would depend on the exact size, as some table tops are larger than 20 square feet.

16 Oz

Typically, a 16 oz. spray paint can covers up to 30 square feet. That may handle one larger furniture piece or more than one medium-sized piece. For example, you may be able to paint a pair of Adirondack chairs or one average-sized dining room table.

How to Estimate How Much Paint Do I Need

While knowing how much each paint can size covers is helpful, it’s only a starting point. You’ll want to calculate how much paint you’ll need for your project, ensuring you get enough in one trip.

Here’s a look at how to estimate how much paint you’ll need.

Traditional Paint

With traditional paint, estimating your paint needs is pretty simple. Usually, the easiest way is to calculate the amount of square footage you need to cover and divide it by the coverage offered by a standard paint can size. Here’s how to go about it.

Calculating the square footage for a wall is straightforward. You simply multiply the length by the height. For a ceiling, you multiple the length by the width.

For furniture or other items, it may be a bit trickier depending on the features in the piece. With a bookshelf, you’ll need to include not just the main structure but also the exposed surface area of the shelves.

For dressers, you need to determine how many drawers you want to paint. Doing the math isn’t as challenging if it’s just the front. You can just multiply the height, width, and length of the piece as a starting point. Then, if you aren’t painting the back, multiple the height and width of the piece and subtract that from the previous total.

If you are painting the drawers, you have to add that extra area to your previous total. Make sure to factor in the sides, interior, and every other spot where you want to apply paint. That way, you can get the right size estimate.

In either case, once you have the area, you can divide it by 400 to see how many gallons of paint you’ll need. However, it’s usually best to round up. As mentioned above, one gallon of paint can cover up to 400 square feet, so it isn’t guaranteed to stretch that far. As a result, you may want to anticipate needing more than the math suggests, just to be safe.

Spray Paint

Generally speaking, estimating your paint needs for spray paint isn’t much different from traditional paint. The main difference is that you won’t base your calculation on the coverage offered by one gallon of paint. Instead, you’ll need to do the math based on the can size you intend to use.

Since you can’t mix your own spray paint colors, start by choosing a hue and seeing what sizes are available. Then, use the process in the section above to calculate the amount of square footage you want to cover.

Once you have the square footage estimate, simply divide that number by the coverage amount offered by your spray paint can size, rounding up to give you some room for error.

Example: How Much Paint Is Needed for a 12×12 Room?

If you have a 12’ x 12’ room, how much paint you’ll need depends on the height, as well as if you intend to paint just the walls or if you’d also like to paint the ceiling in the same shade.

For walls only, if your ceiling height is 8’, you’ll need to cover 384 square feet. In that case, one gallon of paint could potentially give you a single coat, though you may want to purchase extra depending on if you’re using a thicker product or anticipate needing two coats.

For two coats, a second gallon is wise. In other cases, an extra quart or half-gallon may provide you with enough spare to compensate for a thicker product or the need for touchups.

If the ceiling height is 10’ and you only intend to paint the walls, you’re covering 480 square feet. As a result, two cans of paint is a must. You may want to get a one-gallon can and a half-gallon can, giving you some room for error. If you plan on doing two coats, then go with three one-gallon cans, just to be safe.

For walls and ceiling, you have to cover 528 square feet for the 12’ x 12’ x 8’ room and 624 square feet for the 12’ x 12’ x 10’ room. For the former, getting a one-gallon and a half-gallon can could handle one full coat in many situations. For the latter, two-gallon cans is a better fit.

If you are going to apply two coats, you’d want to go with three one-gallon cans for the shorter room. A minimum of three one-gallon cans and one half-gallon can is likely best for the taller.

Paint Coverage Per Gallon

Overall, one gallon of paint can cover up to 400 square feet. However, the exact amount of coverage can vary depending on a few factors.

First, the thickness of the paint plays a role. Generally, thicker paint covers less area than thinner versions. However, it may offer better coverage, making additional coats less necessary.

Another factor impacting how much a gallon of paint covers is wall texture. When a wall is highly textured, more nooks and crannies are on the surface. As a result, there’s technically more area to cover than with a smoother wall, so it can take more paint to get the job done sufficiently.

Since 400 square feet is broadly considered the upper limit, it’s usually best to slightly overestimate your paint needs. In some cases, simply rounding up after dividing the area by 400 is enough to give you some room for error. However, if the original calculation came out close to a whole number, then you may want to buy an extra paint can as a precaution.

How Much Paint Per Square Foot?

When buying paint, it’s more common to assess how much paint you’ll need based on the coverage a specific can size provides. For example, a gallon can handle up to 400 square feet, while a quart can tackle up to 100 square feet.

However, if you’re curious about how much paint it takes to cover a single square foot, it works out to be a little less than two teaspoons.

Overall, there are about 768 teaspoons in a gallon. Since a gallon covers up to 400 square feet, 1.92 teaspoons can handle up to 1 square foot.

If you prefer the metric system, it works out to around 9.5 milliliters per square foot. In total, a gallon is equal to about 3785 milliliters. If you divide that by 400 square feet, you get a little less than 9.5 milliliters per square foot.

Still, that isn’t usually an ideal way to estimate your paint needs. However, since you’re limited to specific paint can sizes, it’s typically better to use their associated coverage amounts as a baseline.


As you can see, there is a wide variety of standard paint can sizes, dimensions, and coverage levels. With the information above, you should be able to determine precisely what you need for your next project. However, remember that it’s always best to have a little extra, ensuring you can handle touchups as needed.

Did you learn all you needed to know about standard paint can sizes, dimensions, and coverage? If so, share your thoughts in the comments area below. Also, if you know anyone who could benefit from the information, please make sure to share the article.